There aren't many errands or outings left on which I feel comfortable taking all three kids by myself, but grocery shopping has always been one of them. Iz is good conversational company, and helpful in fetching items; Mali still fits in the shopping cart seat; and even though I still need to hold Leelo's hand, he is usually content to walk around and help load the cart with us -- especially if it means he can poach some baguette along the way.
On the 4th, somethings was different. I don't know what or why, but when I took all three kids shopping for BBQ fixings so that patient Seymour could enjoy the luxury of a shower, Leelo ran out of patience almost as soon as the sliding glass doors closed behind us. He yelled, and he kept trying to hit Mali. So much so that I had to ask Iz to steer the cart, as he is too strong for me to redirect with only one hand. Leelo spent that entire five or six minutes hitting me or trying to hit Mali. A rational person would have left, but I was so shell-shocked that all I could do was stay on target. I didn't have to buy that many groceries, and I figured that with Iz's help I could tough it out. Which I did.
And which, I realized after a beat or two, was getting me stinkeye from the rest of the shoppers -- all the people who actually liked or understood children must have been at the Fourth of July parade downtown. Even the staff at our small local grocery store was obviously flummoxed, because I usually have to refuse multiple offers of assistance when my children are behaving, but this time -- this one time I actually really did need help -- not one person offered to help me unload my cart, or help me to my car.
By the time I got into our car, I was crying, openly. This is not something Iz usually sees me do, and she was concerned: "What can I do, mommy? Is there any way I can help?"
I told her, "Thank you, sweetie. The best way to help is to promise me that if you see someone who obviously needs help like I did, you will offer to help them."
I cried all the way home.
When I got home, Seymour helped me unload the groceries. "Lucky Charms, huh?" he said, knowing that the cereal was not intended for our children, "That must have been a stressful trip."
I nodded. And I spent the rest of the weekend in a deep funk. What if this is the way things are going to be from now on, what if Leelo's behaviors keep getting worse, and not better?
It's been a few days, and I am feeling better. Leelo has had several successful outings since then, notably in twice-daily five-minute walks with me and his sisters, along a busy road, to the parking where Iz -- along with dozens of squealing girl scouts and their impatient parents -- jostles in and out of the camp bus. And I have been trying to spend more one-on-one time with him, be more in the moment with him. And consider that maybe, the answer is that he's just moody. Like his mom.
(And it's hard to stay upset about a boy who is so beautiful, anyhow.)